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Four St. Paul men recognized for life-saving actions

“I feel really blessed to have people on our staff who are trained in first aid and who, when push came to shove under pressure, their instincts just kicked in and they did what they had to do."
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Four Zarowny Motors employees were recognized Friday morning by the St. Paul Fire Department for the steps they took to save a man’s life last Tuesday when a truck driver suffered a medical incident while behind the wheel. Pictured left to right: St. Paul Fire Chief Trevor Kotowich, Zarowny Motors employees - Gilles Jean, Stephen Buryn, Bernie Lavoie, Loyd Fithen, and Sean Lelacheur, of Western Archives and Shredding.
ST. PAUL - No one is quite sure how they will react in an emergency situation until they are forced into having to make a split-second choice. Several Zarowny Motors employees had to make such a choice last Tuesday on St. Paul’s Main Street and chose to rush to a man’s aid with their actions now being heralded as saving his life.

Stephen Buryn, Loyd Fithen, Gilles Jean and Bernie Lavoie sprang into action after the driver of a Western Archives and Shredding truck suffered a medical episode behind the wheel shortly after pulling out of the dealership’s yard.

The event was captured by the dealership’s video surveillance and, according to general manager Amanda Zarowny Pawlyk, it shows the truck slowly creep up onto the sidewalk in front of the RCMP detachment, coming to rest up against a cement garbage receptacle. Thankfully, there were no other injuries in the incident given that it was mid-morning on St. Paul’s busy Main Street.

“I feel really blessed to have people on our staff who are trained in first aid and who, when push came to shove under pressure, their instincts just kicked in and they did what they had to do,” she said.

“Our first employee happened to be at the lot across the street on the bobcat, noticed this man slumped over, ran to his aid and fortunately somebody said something about ‘he’s not responding’ and that’s when one of my service advisors bolted.” Two other employees also jumped into help.

Using their first-aid knowledge and making use of the dealership’s defibrillator, the foursome was able to keep the man alive until ambulance personnel arrived on scene to take over.

“Luckily we have that machine in here. Just being equipped for these kinds of emergencies, you hope you never have to use them but in our case it potentially saved this guy’s life,” she said.

And by all accounts their actions have saved his life. He is in hospital in Edmonton and has undergone surgery.

On Friday, the four men were presented with Office of the Fire Chief Challenge Coins by Trevor Kotowich, Director of Protective Services and St. Paul’s fire chief, for going above and beyond in their service to someone in need.

Kotowich said the awarding of Challenge Coins is a significant honour and recognizes an individual’s leadership, teamwork, pride, dedication and integrity and represents their contribution to the fire department. This is the first time these coins have been awarded in the community to civilians for their heroic efforts.

“Four of your co-workers leapt into action, not once thinking about their own safety only about the individual who was suffering a life-threatening emergency,” Kotowich said as the dealership employees were gathered in the shop for the recognition of four of their own.

“With well over 30 years in emergency service and experience, I can tell you that this event could have ended in a much different manner and, unfortunately, I’ve witnessed where things really didn’t go the way we would have liked. If it was not for the involvement of Loyd, Bernie, Gilles and Stephen, I can almost guarantee there would have been a different outcome.”

Kotowich stressed the significant role they played in the chain of survival by recognizing someone actually having an emergency and actually doing something about it.

Sean Lelacheur, president of Edmonton-based Western Archives and Shredding, was on hand to offer his appreciation to the dealership, the employees, to update them on the status of the man they saved, and to also provide a $1,000 cheque to donate to a charity of their choice in recognition of their selfless act.

“It is undoubtedly so that you guys saved his life, that has been made very clear to us by everyone in the hospital down in Edmonton,” he said, adding the man had undergone surgery for placement of a stent, and was scheduled for another surgery Friday evening.

Lelacheur also read a message from the driver’s daughter, expressing the family’s gratitude.

“Words are not nearly adequate for the gratitude our family has for the four people who saved a grandfather, a father, a brother, an uncle. To our family you are heroes. Your act of heroism of life-saving skills has impeccable timing, flawless actions have extended a great man’s life. . . Please know that you saved his heart and will forever be in all of ours. Thank you.”

Clare Gauvreau

About the Author: Clare Gauvreau

Clare Gauvreau has worked for the St. Paul Journal for more than 20 years as a journalist, editor and publisher. In her role today as newspaper publisher she continues to contribute news and feature articles on a regular basis.
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